WATERTOWN — On the weekend of October 7-8, the Sayat Nova Armenian Dance Company of Boston (SNDC) celebrated its 35th anniversary by a performance on Saturday night and a gala banquet on Sunday. Both of these events were fueled by nostalgia and memories, as well as the excitement of performing again.
“One, two, three, and four,” Alina Palanjian loudly repeated on the stage of the Regis College Theatre in Weston during one of the last rehearsals for Saturday night’s show. Eyes on the ground during sad songs, a smile on the face when the music is joyful: the women’s instructor precisely led the steps. In a few hours, the curtain would be thrown wide open, so everyone needed to be ready.
Alina is the daughter of Apo Ashjian, the company’s director who founded it in 1986 and who has been active in Armenian dance for more than 40 years. SNDC is a family affair and it is not just Apo Ashjian’s daughter who is teaching, but so is his brother, Hagop, SNDC co-founder and current assistant director. The two brothers founded the organization with Shaghig Palanjian, also an assistant director now. Shaghig is not just a colleague, but an in-law: Alina is married to Shaghig’s son, Sevag Palanjian.
Before the creation of SNDC, Apo had directed other Armenian dance companies and that is how he met Shaghig and the two decided to launch their own group. At that time, they wanted to dance for an independent and non-profit dance ensemble, not affiliated with any Armenian association.
Alina and Hagop have trained a group of 50 folk dancers for several years. Most of them started in the children’s dance school of the company, Abaka, which re-opened last year, after the Covid-19 shut down. Abaka graduates are allowed to dance in the troupe. Auditioning isn’t mandatory to be a member of the dance troupe, however dancers need to start in the beginner’s class.
The members of the SNDC have done several performances throughout the United States and even in Armenia. Because of COVID-19, they weren’t able to perform for 3 years. Therefore, while rehearsing, they felt tired for sure, but most of all, they experienced excitement on the stage.